Waders are probably the toughest piece of gear to review. How much can I write about a pair of fancy overalls before it starts to feel like I’m just trying to hit a word count? The goal is to give you, the reader, some valuable insight before you go spend a bunch of money on new waders, but it’s tough to dig deep and find that information because waders are so derivative.
That’s largely why I love the new Boundary waders from Grundens so much. No, they haven’t made the sort of quantum leap forward in wader design that we’d all like to see, but they set a new standard for all waders built from GORE-TEX.
I’ve fished in the Boundary waders for a couple of months now, and the word I keep using to describe these waders is comfortable. I think the mark of a good wader is one that makes you feel like you’re not wearing it, which the Boundary has accomplished. They’re light, breathable, and, to borrow a phrase from a fishing buddy, don’t make me feel like I’m wearing a spacesuit.
Grundens utilized their long history of building excellent fishing products to knock the Boundary waders out of the park. Let’s take a look at the specific features that make this such a great product.
Grundens has also released a zippered version of this wader. Aside from the front zipper and requisite pocket changes, the two models are identical in construction and features.
GORE-TEX is a great material. It’s waterproof, abrasion-resistant, tear-resistant — I could go on. But it’s also great at trapping body heat and moisture, and every pair of GORE-TEX waders I’ve ever worn has felt swampy. That’s not a good feeling, but it was the tradeoff I made for staying dry and warm.
Whatever GORE-TEX laminate Grundens used in their Boundary wader is the best I’ve ever felt in GORE-TEX. We had a long winter here in Wyoming, so I got to wear these with a fair bit of my cold-weather gear, as well as the last few weeks during warm early-summer fishing, and I haven’t felt swampy once.
Grundens uses a four-layer GORE-TEX laminate in the lower part of the wader for maximum durability, and a three-layer laminate in the upper, for breathability. That’s a fairly standard pattern that most other wader manufacturers follow.
I’m no textile expert, but I’d recommend other manufacturers who use GORE-TEX in their waders take a look at what Grundens has done here. Wearing the Boundary waders is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in any GORE-TEX fabric.
Grundens built what they call a “Fused Contour Suspension System” to try and breathe life into tired, old, and uncomfortable shoulder straps. Drawing inspiration from climbing harnesses, the shoulder straps here are wide, thin, and infinitely adjustable. The shoulder straps attach to the waders via Velcro, so you can adjust the height of the straps to a minute degree. Grundens also integrated a D-ring on the back of the shoulder straps, for attaching nets. The adjustability of the suspension system is a wonderful touch that goes a long way to making these waders more comfortable.
You’ll also notice that the nylon material of the straps that is attached to the buckles doesn’t extend past your shoulders. Instead, that nylon is attached to the thin, wide material the shoulder straps are built from. This is a little design touch that I think goes a long way in increasing the comfort of the suspension system.
It may not look revolutionary — I certainly wouldn’t describe it that way — but the shoulder straps on the Boundary waders are probably the most comfortable I’ve ever used. Comfort is the major theme of this review. It’s these waders’ standout feature.
Grundens didn’t skimp on pocket space with the Boundary waders. You’ll find a drop-mesh pocket on the inside, with a zippered pass-through fleece-lined hand warmer pocket on the outside. There’s plenty of room for extra fly boxes, tippet spools, granola bars, your phone, keys, and whatever else you stuff in your wader pockets.
Wader manufacturers have made a big deal lately about the placement of fabric seams. By changing where the seams are, a manufacturer can mitigate potential wader failures (seams are a likely place for leaks to develop) and theoretically increase your range of motion.
Grundens says the seam placement on the Boundary waders is designed to reduce wear in high-traffic areas. After two months of heavy use, I haven’t seen any indication of wear along the seams, but only time will tell if the seam placement on these waders makes a significant difference in durability.
What Doesn’t Work
Grundens opted for a double weave stretch woven gravel guard that is supposed to stay in place while wading, thereby eliminating the need for a gravel guard hook. The gravel guards mostly stay in place, although I noticed them riding up after longer hikes. It’s not a dealbreaker that the Boundary waders don’t have gravel guard hooks, but it’s something I’d like to see added in future versions of the product.
Grundens may not have revolutionized the fly fishing wader but, in my opinion, they’ve made the most comfortable GORE-TEX wader I’ve ever worn. The Grundens Boundary Waders are light, breathable, and just plain comfortable. They’re priced at $599, which is a fair enough price, although I think most waders are criminally overpriced, anyways. With enough care, that $600 investment in the Boundary waders should last you five years, at least. Grundens does warranty their waders against manufacturing defects, and they offer repair services (at a cost) to original owners of the items.
In all, it’s impressive what Grundens has built here, and I look forward to continued iterations of these waders in the coming years.